Cowon iAudio X5

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Cowon iAudio X5
  • Cowon iAudio X5
  • Cowon iAudio X5
  • Cowon iAudio X5

Pros

  • Crystal clear audio

Cons

  • Difficult menus, screen appears blocky

Bottom Line

Its fantastic audio quality doesn't make up for its flaws in menu and video support.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 4 stores)

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Cowon's iAudio X5 media player is a bit of a mixed bag. The device is designed to compete against the Apple iPod or iRiver H320 hard disk-based media players, and offers a wide range of features above and beyond the competition. Unfortunately, its quality audio playback and stylish design is let down by a poor menu and inadequate video support.

The device weighs 150g. A joystick sits on the silky black front face to provide access to the menu system, and it works well.

A colour 1.8", 160 x 128 pixel screen sits on the front face above the navigation buttons, but the quality isn't fantastic and a little hard to see what's happening onscreen - especially if you're watching movies or looking at photos.

A horde of recording options are available, and you can sample audio from the inbuilt microphone, FM radio, or a microphone connected to the line in port. The player supports MP3, OGG, WMA, ASF, FLAC, JPEG, TXT, XviD and WAV file formats and offers 20GB of storage.

The inclusion of the USB host port is an elegant feature that allows you to move images straight from a digital camera to the device: an extremely handy inclusion for those on holiday, as it saves regular visits to photo labs to have images archived onto CD-ROM. Photo and video playback options are included, but the latter is limited to 15 frames per second. Cowon boasts of a 915 minute playback life, which proved accurate during testing.

The sound quality is outstanding--easily among the best we've ever heard from a portable media player--and there's plenty of volume to overcome ambient noise on crowded bus or train trips. A wide range of EQ options and special sound enhancement features also helped boost audio quality.

Unfortunately the X5 suffers a little bit from feature bloat, leaving the interface a little unpolished. There are so many options available that it becomes hard to navigate the menus if you're just looking to playback music.

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